Proven leadership and community service in Alamance County, for a better Alamance County that works for everyone.
Take a look at Bob’s activities as Alamance County Commissioner, his accomplishments, his distinguished career, his community and professional service and the organizations on whose boards of directors he’s served, his educational background, the awards and certifications he received, and a bit about his personal life, and one can see why every citizen who lives in Alamance County, whether progressive or conservative, young or old, white or a person of color, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, should want him elected to the Alamance County Board or Commissioners. Whether it’s been around public education, health care, mental health, the elderly, our youth, the arts, poverty, or economic development, Bob has dedicated most of his adult life to improving the quality of life for everyone in his community and making it more inclusive, and he will continue to do so when elected once again to the Board.
(2014 – 2018)
During his 4-year term on the Board of Commissioners from December 1, 2014 to December 3, 2018, Bob served the citizens of Alamance County with energy and resolve. Bringing his planning, financial, management, and collaboration experiences and skills from his 35-year career as a senior healthcare executive, Bob …
- steadfastly championed and supported the County’s public education system in his words, deeds, and votes;
- provided leadership to the County’s first strategic planning initiative since 2003;
- supported implementing the wage and classification plan for county staff;
- supported and voted for expanding public transportation offerings;
- brought to Alamance County and co-chaired the County’s Stepping Up Initiative, part of a national effort to reduce the number of persons with mental illness in county detention centers;
- voted to provide incentive packages to attract new companies such as Cambro, Lidl, Prescient, and Lotus to bring new high paying jobs, expand our tax base, and keep our property tax rates in check
- Supported our farmers by supporting the Farm Preservation Program, the Present-Use Value tax system, and actively participating in meetings of the Volunteer Agriculture District Board and the Alamance Food Collaborative.
- helped to organize efforts to address the Opioid epidemic;
- brought a lens of racial equity, inclusion, and prevention to Board discussions;
- and faithfully represented the Board of Commissioners on many other boards and committees that effectively kept him an engaged and effective County Commissioner who was current on local needs and issues:
- Liaison to the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education (attended all board meetings, board work sessions, and Joint Facilities Task Force meetings)
- Alamance Achieves Steering Committee (a community-wide collaborative to ensure all children achieve educational goals, from cradle to career)
- Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) – Board of Directors, Operations Committee
- Alamance County Transportation Authority (ACTA) – Board of Directors, Secretary-Treasurer
- Burlington Public Transit Advisory Commission (Link Transit)
- Alamance County Justice Advisory Council – Chair (Oversees the Family Justice Center and the Stepping Up Initiative)
- Cardinal Innovations Healthcare – Board of Directors; Performance, Evaluation, and Compensation Committee; Central Community Advisory Board (Provides Mental Health Services for 20-county area including Alamance)
- Children’s Executive Oversight Committee
- Alamance County Public Libraries Advisory Committee
- Alamance County Board of Health
- North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation Board
- North Carolina Association of County Commissioners – Board of Directors; Chair, Health and Human Services Steering Committee
In addition, Bob served on the Alamance Eldercare and the Burlington-Alamance Sister Cities Boards of Directors and regularly attended Community Council meetings, Working Women Wednesdays luncheons of the Women’s Resource Center (of which he is a member), Alamance-Burlington School System functions, and many other community forums, meetings, and events.
“I am proud of the work that I’ve done in my first term as Commissioner,” says Bob. “I’ve learned so much. It’s been an honor as well as a pleasure to serve my community in these many ways.”
In addition to his work as County Commissioner, Bob has a history of accomplishments throughout his time in Alamance County, whether as part of his career at Alamance Regional Medical Center or through his work with community organizations, all of which have helped improve the well-being of others and made Alamance County a better place to live, work, and play. Some of the highlights include:
- Helped to establish, as one of its co-founders, Healthy Alamance, a collaboration among ARMC, the County Health Department, the County Department of Social Services, the United Way, and other community organizations to assess and improve the community’s health. Assisted in establishing Healthy Alamance’s Food Collaborative.
- Helped to establish the Alamance Racial Equity Alliance (AREA), a community of anti-racist people that encourages the transformation of thought through trainings and events to advance racial equity and end racism.
- Played a key role in the transition of the Scott Clinic in northern Alamance County from a private physician’s office to the Scott Community Health Center, a nonprofit, federally qualified health center under the auspices of Piedmont Health Services, Inc., ensuring the continuation and expansion of access to medical care in that part of the community.
- Oversaw the recruitment of numerous primary and specialty physicians, including establishing new physician office practices, increasing access to medical care throughout Alamance County.
- As Board Chair, provided leadership to Alamance County Community Services Agency, Inc. in developing the affordable housing project, Apple Tree Village, off Apple Street in Burlington.
- Served as the lead ARMC executive in creating and initially developing The Village At Brookwood, a continuing care retirement community in Burlington, and developing the hospital’s replacement skilled nursing facility, Edgewood Place.
- Served as the lead ARMC executive in creating and developing the Mebane Outpatient Center, now called Cone Health MedCenter Mebane, expanding access to primary and specialty physicians and a full array of health services in eastern Alamance County.
- Provided ARMC executive oversight to the directors, whom were employed by ARMC, of the successful community organizations Open Door Clinic of Alamance County, Healthy Alamance, and Alamance ElderCare.
- Co-founded, directed, and played lead saxophone in the Alamance Jazz Band, now in its 32nd year, an 18-piece jazz ensemble formed under the auspices of Alamance Arts (formerly Alamance County Arts Council) to provide a forum for those interested in performing and/or enjoying music of the big band idiom, a true American art form.
Alamance Regional Medical Center (ARMC), Burlington, NC (1978 – 2014)
Bob was a member of the senior executive team for over 35 years with extensive experience in strategic planning, budgeting, management, development of new initiatives, and collaboration with others.
Areas of Responsibilities
For his later years at ARMC, Bob served as Senior Vice President and was responsible for strategic planning, physician recruitment, physician network development, and community health initiatives. Prior responsibilities included operational oversight of most hospital departments, and he served for many years as the nursing home administrator of the Skilled Nursing Division of Memorial Hospital (now Edgewood Place) of Alamance County.
A Period of Growth and Development.
During Bob’s tenure, Alamance Regional grew from two small local community hospitals to a large comprehensive medical center with state-of-the-art technology. There was the merger of the two predecessor hospitals, Memorial Hospital of Alamance County and Alamance County Hospital, which was the first merger of two general hospitals in North Carolina. This was followed by the opening of the new replacement Alamance Regional Medical Center, the implementation of the latest technological advancements in healthcare, the creation of The Village At Brookwood retirement community and the new Edgewood Place skilled nursing facility, the establishment of the Mebane Medical Park and the Mebane Outpatient Center, the building of a new Cancer Center, Emergency Department, and new Operating Rooms and related spaces, the creation of ARMC Physicians Care, Inc. (an employed physician network), the merger with Cone Health in Greensboro, and many other improvements to the organization and the services it has provided to its patients and clients.
“It has been an honor and privilege to have been a part of the executive team that, along with many other wonderful people, made all of this growth and development happen,” Bob says. Through this period, Alamance Regional maintained a fiscally sound financial position, with an operating budget of twice that of Alamance County’s. “I know the importance of sound fiscal management and operating within a budget,” Bob says. “I also know that growth does not happen successfully without wise investments and good strategic and financial planning.”
Bob’s Early Years
Prior to his career as a healthcare executive, Bob had a variety of occupational experiences. Bob says, “Every one of my job experiences provided me with valuable skills, lessons, and perspectives that I have used throughout my life and use even today.”
Bob grew up as the son of a small businessman and entrepreneur who was a tool and die maker by trade and owned a tool and die company and an injection molding plastics company. There, working part time during high school and college, Bob was a stock boy, assembly line worker, and draftsman. “Working for my dad gave me a great appreciation of the challenges small business leaders face, and how hard it is to work on the front lines in an industrial setting,” Bob says.
“I was so proud of my dad, who received Pennsylvania’s first Small Businessman of the Year Award in 1965 from Pennsylvania’s Governor.” Bob says that his dad was known for his work ethic and innovation, attributes that Bob adopted for his own. His dad also set the stage for Bob’s civic and professional service as he also was actively engaged in those activities.
Just as important as Bob’s dad in his development was his mother, a stay-at-home mom who exuded wisdom, judgement, and common sense. “People have told me that my mother and I were soul mates,” says Bob, “and, it’s true.” Bob explains that she was timid and sensitive, and that he inherited her emotional makeup. “I would say that my mom was a big part of setting my moral compass,” he says. His mother took her parental responsibilities seriously, enforcing household rules and ensuring that Bob and his three siblings did their homework and practiced their music lesson assignments. She faithfully transported them to those lessons and school activities and made sure they went to church. “We were all baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church,” explains Bob. With parental encouragement and support, he became the very first person in his extended family to graduate from college.
After college, Bob served as a part time substitute teacher in public schools for a year, and then discovered the hospital world when he took a job as an on-the-job trainee in the field of respiratory therapy. He was a respiratory therapist for five years, both as a staff therapist and as a manager, before going on to graduate school in health care administration.
- Master of Health Administration degree – Duke University, Durham, NC
- Bachelor of Science degree – The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, music education major
- Certificate in Respiratory Therapy – University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics
- Bob is a product of public education from elementary school through college and took additional courses at a public community college.
- ‘Berth B. Holt’ Lifetime Achievement Award – Alamance County Democratic Party
- Public Health Champion Award – Alamance County Board of Health
- In The Spotlight Award – Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
- Humanitarian Award – Alamance County Branch, NAACP
- Lifetime Achievement Award (henceforth named the Robert E. Byrd Leadership Award) – Healthy Alamance
- Community Service Award – United Way of Alamance County
- Business Associate Award – Graham Charter Chapter, American Business Women’s Association
- Service Award – American College of Healthcare Executives
- Distinguished Service Award – North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association
- Life Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (LFACHE)
- Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT – Inactive)
- Licensed Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA – Inactive)
- Past Chairman, Board of Directors and Past Campaign Chairman:
- United Way of Alamance County
- Past President, Board of Directors:
- Alamance County Community Services Agency
- Alamance County Chapter, North Carolina Symphony Society
- Alamance County Arts Council (now Alamance Arts)
- Triad Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives
- Current Board of Directors:
- Alamance Eldercare (Board Chair)
- Burlington-Alamance Sister Cities (Treasurer)
- Allied Churches of Alamance County
- Cardinal Innovations Healthcare
- Current Committees and Other Community Organizations:
- Alamance Jazz Band (18-piece jazz orchestra) (Co-Founder, Music Director, and lead saxophonist for over 31 years)
- Piedmont Triad Chapter, Penn State Alumni Association (Treasurer)
- Alamance Racial Equity Alliance (Finance Coordinator)
- Morrow Town Task Force
- Alamance Network for Inclusive Healthcare
- Alamance County Branch, NAACP (Member)
- Women’s Resource Center in Alamance County (Member)
- Burlington Velo Club (Member)
- Additional Past Board of Directors:
- Healthy Alamance (Founding Member, Treasurer)
- United Way of North Carolina
- North Carolina Symphony Society
- North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association
- NC Local Health Department Accreditation Board
- Alamance County Board of Health
- NC Association of County Commissioners (Chair, Health and Human Services Steering Committee; District 11 Chair)
- Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
- Alamance County Transportation Authority (Secretary-Treasurer)
- NC Health Care Facilities Association
- Past Committees and Other Community Organizations
- Alamance County Justice Advisory Council (Chair)
- Alamance Achieves Steering Committee (Founding Member)
- Alamance Burlington School System Vision Plan Committee (Stakeholder’s Group)
- Burlington Public Transit Advisory Commission (Link Transit)
- Children’s Executive Oversight Committee
- Public Libraries Advisory Committee
- Adult Home Community Advisory Committee
- Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee
- Burlington Police Department Weed and Seed Committee
- Alamance County Safe Kids Committee
- NC Penalty Review Committee (NC Division of Health Service Regulation)
Bob and his wife, Barbara Bennett Byrd, have been happily married since January, 1985. Barbara was born and raised in Alamance County and graduated from Graham High School. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Bachelor of Music degree. She has taught piano privately to hundreds of students since graduation, and she is the organist and choir director at Graham Presbyterian Church, where she has served since 1992. For fifteen years earlier, she was the organist at St. Mark’s Church, where she and Bob were married. Bob and Barbara have no children. They have been homeowners in Burlington since they were married.
Bob and Barbara share their love of music. They have performed as a duo (sax and keyboard) for many church services, recitals, weddings, banquets, and receptions. They initially met in the Alamance Chorale, where Barbara was accompanist and Bob sang in the bass section. They enjoy listening to live jazz, especially big bands, symphony orchestras, and the Choral Society of Durham, where Barbara’s brother, John, sings tenor.
Active road cyclists, Bob and Barbara are members of the Burlington Velo Club. In addition to participating in area rides and charity cycling events, they have proudly ridden across the state fourteen (14) times as part of Cycle North Carolina’s Mountains to the Coast ride, a 7-day trek that is always held during the first week of October. A different route each year, the fall 2017 ride took them 472 miles from West Jefferson to Swansboro. Being physically fit and healthy is important to both of them.
As a semi-professional saxophonist (along with doubling on flute and clarinet), Bob has led an active musical life. He studied saxophone privately with Craig Whittaker of UNCG and flute with Linda Cykert of Elon University, each for nearly two years. In addition to his involvement with the Alamance Jazz Band and performing with Barbara, Bob has had the privilege of performing as a single-engagement sideman throughout North Carolina with such bands as the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, the Atlantic Jazz Orchestra, Reflections, the NC Revelers Jazz Orchestra, the Likewise Swing Band, the Holzhackern Tyrolean Band (“We wear lederhosen in this one,” Bob says with a smile.), and several other regionally known big bands, jazz combos and orchestras. With the US Airways Jazz Orchestra, Bob performed in Germany, Holland, Bermuda, and throughout the United States.
“But among my favorite musical experiences was playing in the pit orchestras of local musical theater productions, especially in area high schools along side of budding student musicians,” Bob says.